Italy vs Great Britain

in Ispiration, People

I must say, even if I don’t have any British blood in me and I was made and brought up in Italy, I feel partly Brit. It might be because I lived in London for a while, it might be because, my husband, a lot of my best friends and my adopted family are English or because for so many years I have lived both lifestyles, anyway I feel in tune with the British culture almost as much as my own native one (sometimes even more!) and even if he approaches are often really diverse.

For instance, the ways of decorating houses in the two countries are very different because of the climate, the spaces, the habits.

I have asked three Brits leaving in Italy what they think the differences are between Italy and Great Britain in decorating their spaces and the results are extremely interesting and food for thought.

Read my interviews with Ashley, Michelle and Stephanie and a few lines about who they are below:


After many years living in London and working in the media industry as a presenter, author and producer and almost one year in Naples, Ashley Hames decided that happiness could be in Palermo.

He is a very cunning writer and an extremely direct, honest person.

You can buy or download his latest book “Seven Days To Say I Love You” from Amazon and read some of his articles in The Huffington Post here.

Since you have now probably seen a number of Italian houses, we are curious to know what’s the difference in the approach of decorating houses between Britain and Italy. 

Home for the English is a place to watch TV, order takeaways and to sleep. For the Italians it’s a place to cook and to cement the family unit.
The Italian centrepiece will be the dining room table, for the English, it’s a swanky surround-sound television.
The home – in England – is where you invest and spend big, while in Italy you prefer to wear your money.
Both nationalities are showing off, just in different ways.
From from what I’ve seen, Italians tend to decorate their homes with lots of little things – numerous trinkets and heirlooms, heaps of framed photos, wall-mounted masks and fridge magnets. It’s a world of bits and bobs.
That suggests the Italians are messy, yet they are obsessively tidy in their personal space – a rejection of the chaos that lies outside their front door.
British homes have moved towards minimalist decluttering, but sparkling cleanliness still remains less of a concern than it is for Italians.
For the English, the public and the private – the outside and the inside – have a similar vibe. In Italy, home is about care and comfort, outside is struggle and survival.

What is your dream house like and where would it be?
My dream home would be small and simple, something like a beachfront bungalow, no neighbours, space for dogs to run, a nearby bar and cafe. But I think I’d also need a penthouse flat in town – just for weekends – to let my hair down. Everything’s about balance.


The incredible (and busy) studio of Italian designer Piero Fornasetti.


Michelle Grant is a talented photographer, graphic designer and webmaster, able to create the image of a product or brand from scratch to delivery. Born in Australia but an adopted Brit after so many years in London, she now lives in the picturesque Tuscan countryside with her two kids who speak an impeccable English and Italian with a Tuscan accent. To see her work, visit her beautiful website

Since you have now probably seen a number of Italian houses, we are curious to know what’s the difference in the approach of decorating houses between Britain and Italy. 

Carpet!! I miss a good wall-to-wall carpet sometimes 😀 also I think here, in the countryside where I am, there’s a definite emphasis on showing natural materials, especially with earthy painted colours, and larger grander pieces of standalone furniture. In Australia where I lived the emphasis was on cool airy spaces that let you live outside, while in the UK maximising light was important.

What is your dream house like and where would it be?

A light, bright space in stone and wood high up over the sea… somewhere like Gaeta would be ideal!!


Wall to wall sisal for this British interior


Born in Greece, Stephanie studied in London and pursued a career as senior analyst and internal auditor in Scotland.  Tired of the demanding style of life working in the field of finance, she decided to move to Rome where she has been living for the last year (and she already speaks fluent Italian!) where she works as a language consultant for big companies. She is passionately, intelligently and successfully devoting herself to getting to know our culture.

Since you have now probably seen a number of Italian houses, we are curious to know what’s the difference in the approach of decorating houses between Britain and Italy. 

I can say that there is a vast amount of differences between your traditional British home and an authentic Italian household. First thing that comes to mind in a typical British household are fitted carpets which you may also find in the bathroom and the number of small individual rooms. The heavy dark coloured curtains and glass cabinets filled with China and small ornaments. The likes of an Italian home, you would find it being quite large open spaces filled with family picture frames and a television in every room not to mention the terrace, with a number of plants, which is used most of the year. The other thing that struck me the most is that the kitchen is the heart of the home filled to brim with a variety of pots and pans, colourful tiles and families congregate together for dinners whereby in a British home, quite the contrary, dinner is served on trays whilst sitting in the living room couch watching television. To sum up, British homes appear cosy as it’s nicely decorated minimally and Italian homes is spacious enough filled with memorable furnishings and picture  frames which leaves you feeling quite comfortable.

What is your dream house like and where would it be?

My dream house is two fold; Firstly an apartment in the city with the hustle and bustle on your doorstep. The apartment would be relatively modern with high ceilings and with pendant lamps hanging. Italian characteristics such as a big kitchen inundated with every type of kitchen utensils and a large table with at least ten chairs. Not to mention the outdoor terrace which would be covered with a variety of flowers and plants with a spectacular skyline of Rome. Venetian blinds covering the direct sunlight with colourful shutters which would be left wide open at all times. The living room would consist of a large corner sofa and large bookshelves with every imaginable art, fashion and cultural books. My second home would of course be out in the country near a lake, ideally in the regions of Abruzzo or Puglia. The house would have a wood burning fireplace in the living room which would have furniture made of wood. Cosy sofas and also a benches under the window so you can overlook the lake and the forest. The kitchen would have a double oven which would have to be green as the house would have only earthy colours. Again, a large kitchen table although this time with two long benches on either side. The master bedroom would be nicely decorated with wooden floors, rugs, dressing table and a large bed with a big wooden headboard. The bathroom would have a large bath tub and also a large open shower. The garden would be filled with hazelnut and almond trees and bushes of different types of berries and a little greenhouse for my vegetable patch. This would inexplicably be my dream house which I would tame pleasure to share with family and friends in my lifetime.


An example of big kitchen in Palazzo Orlandi, Italy.